1902 Bigfoot in Idaho. Newspaper account of sasquatch encounter
Updated: Feb 3
A ghost town conjures up a wide range of images. Empty buildings. Forgotten ways of life. Abandoned dreams. This is the fate which befell Chesterfield, Idaho. Founded by Mormon settlers, the small town suffered in the turn of the 20th century due to extreme winters and harsh droughts, chilling it to the core and reducing its food supply. Yet it is during these harsh times that the residents of Chesterfield would encounter something that would bring the small town to the headlines. As an early encounter of Bigfoot in Idaho, this story raises a lot of questions about the creature.
It’s a cold winter morning in Chesterfield, one of many that is to lead the town into a cruel decline over coming years. But for now, the feeling is optimistic. The locals allow themselves to carry on their daily lives, and a few even dare to brave the cold to enjoy the opportunities the frigid temperatures bring.
When the mercury plummets, the Portneuf river becomes frozen, granting the younger residents a chance to engage in some recreation. Down on the river, a small group of youngsters from the town decided to go skating, on what would prove to be a fateful day. They dismounted their wagons, leaving them a safe distance from the river, gathered their equipment, and then made their way to the frozen river.
As they skated, they may have become aware of a heavy crunching of snow underfoot moving in their direction. They may have sensed merciless eyes glaring down at them. Whatever they may have experienced, it became quickly obvious that they were not alone.
As the skated, they became aware of a huge, 8-foot tall figure approaching them. It was humanoid in shape, but was covered in dense fur. It approached, brandishing a club above its head, and giving out a huge, bestial scream.
Terrified, the skaters reacted. Leaving the river, they were able to run to their wagons and charge off before the creature was able to reach them. Returning to the town, the skaters were able to relay their story, and an armed group quickly formed to pursue the creature. When they reached the river though, it was gone, leaving only a trail of 22 inch long, 7 inch wide tracks.
There have been numerous sightings of bigfoot like creatures in the area since. Many of these stories rot and decay, much like the empty buildings of Chesterfield itself. Long forgotten, and derelict.
The Media story
This story is interesting journalistically mainly because of how sparse the details that accompany it are. The article itself makes reference to a variety of mysterious creatures that inhabit sawtooth ridge, of which the bigfoot is just one - though notably the most fearsome. But we learn surprisingly little about the creature. Obviously this could be down to the apparent brevity of the encounter, but it could also show some laziness on the part of the reporter. Surely we can draw some more information beyond the sensationalist headlines - a category which bigfoot reports, unfortunately, tend to fall under to the present day.
The Bigfoot story
It is when we apply the story through a bigfoot prism that we can draw some interesting parallels. The size and fur coverage are more or less a given; most bigfoot reports have a creature too large and furry to be a human.
In this report though, we can see that this alleged bigfoot decided to brandish a club. The first and immediate question rises from the term ‘club’. This word seems to imply that the stick is being brandished as a weapon, but this seems rather unnecessary for a creature with the sheer muscular capacity that a sasquatch would have. There is though a potential explanation for the use of ‘club’.
Many bigfoot researchers believe that sasquatch wood knocks, as many great apes are known to do. Perhaps the item in its hand is a tool to help this individual contact other bigfoots in the area. What is also interesting to consider is that if one trawls through newspapers in this time period, it becomes quite evident that the portrait of paleolithic man has already been painted by the time this encounter took place. The loincloth wearing, furrow-browed, hairy, and - most importantly- club carrying image is a natural conflation for what we would now consider to be a sasquatch encounter, therefore it is entirely possible that the intention for the object in the creature’s hand could have been misunderstood.
The article is taken from The Morning Astorian, 1902 and I make no particular comment onto the actual authenticity of the story itself.
What do you think about this encounter in Idaho? Critically, what do you make of the apparent club? I’d love to hear from you!